The road to the presidency is never easy, but for former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, it will be particularly onerous, according to a political analyst.
Edmund Tayao, also a Political Science professor from the University of Santo Tomas, made the observation amid Roxas’ continued struggle in surveys where he has been stuck at fourth place.
In the December poll of Pulse Asia, Roxas scored 17 percent, trailing Vice President Jejomar Binay who got 33 percent, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, 23 percent, and Sen. Grace Poe, 21 percent. In the Social Weather Stations December survey, Roxas ranked third with 22 percent. Binay and Poe tied at the top spot with 22 percent. Duterte was fourth with 20 percent.
“This is social science, not natural science. One plus one does not necessarily equate to two. The survey numbers of the candidates are fluctuating, regardless of who are behind these surveys. I see it as a wide-open race between the top three leading candidates: Poe, Duterte and Binay. It’s an uphill climb for the fourth candidate who is the administration candidate,” Tayao said in an interview, referring to Roxas.
He added that the decision to allow Roxas and his running mate, Rep. Leni Robredo, to campaign separately to cover more ground exposed their differences.
It was Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo, one of Poe’s senatorial bets, who first raised the differences between Roxas and Robredo that include their stance in lowering income tax rates and how to deal with monstrous traffic jams.
“They were in two places at the same time, but this strategy revealed that they have differing policy preferences. Her approach is grassroots, much like the style of Vice President Binay, rather than taking to multimedia and other gimmicks,” Tayao said, alluding to the music video that Roxas shot with Robredo and a handful of popular actors that included Daniel Padilla, Kathryn Bernardo, Billy Crawford, Carla Abellana as well as basketball star James Yap.
“While Robredo’s husband was more of a local politician than a national figure, the name left an indelible mark,” Tayao said of Robredo’s rise from 12 percent to 19 percent in the December SWS survey on Vice Presidential candidates.
As for Poe, Tayao said her star is not likely to fade yet despite several disqualification cases pending before the Supreme Court.
Poe secured a Temporary Restraining Order on December 28 from the Supreme Court stopping the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from disqualifying her from the presidential race for not being a natural-born Filipino.
“We can’t tell if her peak is over. Everybody is carefully weighting his or her options. The discussions have been so focused on her disqualification, and she could change the tide by introducing other points [of her competence]in the conversation. They are yet to divert the issue to other significant ones,” Tayao said.
“People did not really forget about the corruption allegations against Binay. He simply benefitted from what was happening to Senator Poe and Duterte [who are facing disqualification cases],” he added.
The High Court will hold oral arguments on Poe’s case on January 19, less than a month before the campaign period. Considering such timeframe, Tayao said Poe may start making moves to turn the tide instead of waiting for the tribunal’s decision.
“The Supreme Court deliberation is a long process. (It’s decision) could be before or after the elections so the ruling will just be a part of a decision [on whether you will vote for her]. This will still be a political rather than a legal issue,” Tayao said.